Sean Beckwith: Preserving one of the last vestiges of disc golf in the valley
It’s finally time to put away your ski gear for the season, which is a bummer for all but your roommates who no longer have to look at all your boots, goggles, hat, gloves, snow pants, etc. strewn about the living room. It’s time to dust off or find those golf clubs, bikes, rafts, fly-fishing rods and whatever else you substitute in for the summer. This is typically the best time of year to head downvalley for a little disc golf and Taqueria El Nopal.
Unfortunately, free activity enthusiasts are in a holding pattern as it relates to the CMC Spring Valley course. Closed since last year for fear that a stray cigarette butt will cause the next Lake Christine Fire, the course is still shut down. According to a Facebook post about a recent meeting regarding its status, the layout will change when, or if, it reopens due to the addition of a pump track and other development. Butchering some of the best holes in Colorado to make way for more biking is incredibly frustrating.
Who knows what the new layout will look like, but I hope they keep as much of its original design as possible. It’s one of the most beloved courses in the valley made even more beautiful with Mount Sopris lingering on the horizon. While there are other areas to chuck a disc, they’re either too short (Aspen Mountain front nine, Carbondale pitch and putt), require hiking up a mountain (Snowmass, back nine on Aspen) or are very susceptible to losing discs (back nine at Aspen Mountain, and Snowmass as soon as the weeds grow).
Holes 2, 13 and 16 at CMC are like comfort food; standing on the tee box at each location is warmly satisfying. I’m so familiar with the place that I can tell you which holes I crack beers at. Hole 2 is first because I want to be out of sight of the parking lot/people. After the marathon that is hole 6, 7 or 8 are perfect places to open beer No. 2. After that, 13 and 16 are usually where I open my third and fourth slightly warm cervezas.
The thing about the CMC location is I’m not sure how much the college even wants a course. No other course I can think of, including the CMC Leadville location, closes due to a fire ban — and CMC doesn’t even allow smoking (or drinking) on the property, even though people routinely break those rules. That said, asking someone to remain sober while golfing is criminal and defeats half the purpose of playing in the first place.
Usually a midweek morning routine, we like to throw once a week. It’s good exercise, competition and an excuse to talk s—. While I can’t speak for everyone who frequents the locale, the group I play with packs out more garbage than we pack in. However, that’s clearly not the case for everyone, evident by the fact that we’re actively picking up trash while playing. It’s unfortunate not all people treat the course with the same reverence.
Because it’s free/involves discs, your typical disc golfer looks like he gets Phish concert ticket notifications, which probably doesn’t help the optics. I understand that some high school kids also use disc as an excuse to get out of the house and smoke weed but that’s what high school kids do. Also, it’s Frisbee golf; even pros have a second job. It’s not like they brought in Jack Nicklaus to perfect the undulation on the greens.
The people who run CMC also could relax a bit. It’s a freaking college campus. If they’re concerned about litter on the course, add a few trashcans. If they don’t want people having fun then they should’ve used the land for a nature preserve or birding. It’s like building a pool and getting mad because people are splashing and diving.
The big issue is what will this redesign look like? Are they changing the holes so much that the drive down is no longer worth the trip? Does CMC want a campus amenity or something that benefits the entire community? Doing away with one of the few impetuses to visit an otherwise out-of-the-way campus could make the place feel empty and sterile.
Adding another place to bike is unnecessary. There are literally hundreds of miles of trails up and down the valley; I can count valley disc golf courses on one hand.
I always thought it was great that CMC built the course and allowed everyone to use it. It’s one of the few sports that is free but can’t be replicated in your driveway. Concrete tee pads, amazing views and challenging terrain make it an area favorite. If you visit the Roaring Fork Disc Golf Club Facebook page, you’ll see a very inclusive and tight-knit group of people, all of which love the course.
Please, CMC, don’t ruin this unique and precious outlet — and disc golfing in the valley along with it.
Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.